|WATER FROM THE ROCK
Flowing in the tradition of Marcellin Champagnat
Water from the Rock
Br. Emili Turú, Br. AMEstaún,
Br. Onorino Rota and Luiz Da Rosa.
Redactors: English: Sr. Marie Kraus, SND
Br. Joadir Foresti, Br. Jean Pierre Destombes,
Br. Federico Carpintero and Br. AMEstaún
Photographic Archives of the Institute of the Marist Brothers.
Photographic Archives of the “Fabbrica di San Pietro in Vaticano”.
Formatting and Photolithography:
Via A. Meucci, 28 – 00012 Guidonia (Roma)
Production and Administrative Centre:
Piazzale Marcellino Champagnat, 2.
C.P. 10250 – 00144 ROMA
Tel. (39) 06 545 171
Fax (39) 06 54 517 217
Publisher: Institute of the Marist Brothers
General House – Rome
Printing: C.S.C. GRAFICA, s.r.l.
Via A. Meucci, 28 – 00012 Guidonia (Roma)
WATER FROM THE ROCK
Flowing in the tradition of Marcellin Champagnat
DRAWING FROM STREAMS OF LIVING WATER
WE JOURNEY IN FAITH
AS BROTHERS AND SISTERS
BRINGING GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR
WE SEE NEW VISIONS, DREAM NEW DREAMS
6 June 2007
Feast of Saint Marcellin
Dear brothers and members of the Marist Family,
Dear Brothers and members of the Marist Family, Marcellin Champagnat’s first recruits loved him for the elder brother and father that he was. That fact is not surprising since the young priest and his charges shared a great deal in common.
First of all, like the founder himself, Jean-Marie Granjon, the Audras brothers—Jean-Baptiste and Jean-Claude, Antoine Couturier, Barthélemy Badard, Gabriel Rivat, and Jean-Baptise Furet were unpretentious country lads who lived by the work of their hands. Second, for the most part they were initially unlettered. The founder himself had had his share of academic difficulties, and struggled in the seminary due to his lack of preparation.
But the loyalty and dedication of the young men that Marcellin gathered round himself had roots that ran far deeper than similarities in background or experience. For the founder was a man who had fallen in love with God, and with his help his young recruits eventually did the same. Yes, under his tutelage they grew ever more aware of God’s presence and began to rely on Providence.
He advised each of them also to model himself on Mary, knowing that it was a sure way for them to center their lives on the Lord. And so they strove to make her ways their own. Keenly aware of the founder’s apostolic nature they mirrored his concern for God’s poor and competed with one another to be of service to them.
In time their way of living the gospel became a reflection of the character and values of the person who inspired them. Years later so many of them remembered this resolute and courageous man as enthusiastic and practical, willing to take action, and blessed with a humble spirit. Herein lay the source of the simple and down-to-earth spirituality that he so freely shared with them.
That spirituality had at its heart Marcellin’s own experience of being loved by Jesus and called by Mary. Along with the other early Marists, he believed she was calling their Society to a renewed way of being Church; at Fourvière they pledged themselves to make that dream a reality.
The spirituality of Marcellin Champagnat and our early brothers has been handed on to us as a precious heritage (C, 49). Made contemporary by each generation it retains its Marial and apostolic dimensions. Our task is to incarnate this spirituality in the many cultures and situations in which the Institute finds itself at the moment.
Our brothers gathered in Chapter in 2001 asked the new General Administration to develop a guide that would make the Marist Apostolic Spirituality of Marcellin Champagnat more accessible to a wider audience. They realized that since the Institute’s beginnings this spirituality has had an appeal not only to Marcellin’s brothers but to his lay Marists as well. It is my privilege to introduce to you Water from the Rock: Marist spirituality – flowing in the tradition of Marcellin Champagnat.
This text is the work of many hands and the fruit of a great deal of consultation. Aware also of the fact that any genuine spirituality is living and dynamic, we need to keep in mind that what is written in these pages is not meant to be the last word on the topic. Rather what appears here is written for our age and time in history.
Though many played an important role in shaping this document and its contents, one group in particular—an international body of brothers, laymen and women, and other Marists—shepherded the project throughout. My thanks to all involved and in a special way to the members of that International Commission: Brother Benito Arbues, FMS, Brother Bernard Beaudin, FMS, Brother Nicholas Fernando, FMS, Sister Vivienne Goldstein, SM, Brother Maurice Goutagny, FMS, Brother Lawrence Ndawala, FMS, Brother Spiridion Ndanga, FMS, Brother Graham Neist, FMS, Bernice Reintjens, Agnes Reyes, Vanderlei Soela, Brother Miguel Angel Santos, FMS, Brother Luis Garcia Sobrado, FMS, and particularly Brother Peter Rodney, FMS, a member of our General Council, who oversaw the group’s work.
Marcellin’s Marist Apostolic Spirituality is a living and dynamic experience of God, contemplative and action oriented at the same time.
Transformed by the love of Jesus and called by Mary we are sent on mission, announcing God’s Good News to those children and young people living on the margins of society.
Thus, the title of this text: Water from the Rock. Those who know well the story of Marcellin will recall that he built the Hermitage by hand with rock that he had hewn himself. The water from the Gier, a small river that runs through the Hermitage property, was an important second source of life to the early community. Using the same two images, Water from the Rock gives Marcellin’s Marist Apostolic Spirituality its central and rightful place in the lives of each of us and all those who come to know and love him as did those early recruits of his so many years ago. May what you read here deepen your understanding and increase your faith.
Blessings and affection,
Brother Seán D. Sammon, FMS
of the development
of our spirituality.
How to approach
In 2001, the XXth General Chapter of the Marist Brothers requested that reflection on the subject of our spirituality be encouraged and that a document, along the lines of the Marist education document of 1998, be produced.1 In interpreting this mandate, the General Council saw the text as helping us to reflect upon and deepen our understanding, appreciation and living of Marist spirituality. The text is not meant to be the final word on this spirituality, but rather a statement of how we understand it today. Therefore, it is essential that the document tell the story over time about how our Marist search for God was born, took root, and flourished. It would open up the richness of this spirituality and so better enable us to offer this gift to the Church and the world. It would also promote the growth of our life in faith both personally and in the different human communities in which we find ourselves. The document is intended to help develop a spirituality that is apostolic and Marial in our ministries.
Throughout life, our inner spiritual reality interacts dynamically with the experiences we undergo. On the one hand, what we term our spirituality is moulded as we embrace the experiences of our lives. On the other, this spirituality shapes the way we understand and relate to the world, to people and to God.
When we speak of Christian spirituality we refer to that unquenchable fire that burns within, filling us with passion for the building of the Kingdom of God. 2 This becomes the driving force of our lives as we allow the Spirit of Christ to lead us. Any Christian living this way grows in holiness. 3
We live out this Christian spirituality in a distinctive Marial and apostolic way. 4 It is an incarnated spirituality springing up in Marcellin Champagnat*.5 It developed with the first Brothers who handed it on to us as a precious heritage. 6
While we share common roots with other Marist* ways of life, we have a particular spirituality. It is continuously renewed through the action of the Spirit, coupled with our personal and community efforts to incarnate it in changing situations and in different cultures.7 This spirituality strengthens our unity and is a crucial element for the vitality of our life and mission.8 Therefore, in using the term “Marist” in this document we speak only of those whose spirituality is in the tradition of Marcellin.
Landmarks of the development of our Spirituality
Marcellin was gifted with a profound relationship with Jesus and Mary. Our spirituality began with this gift. Beginning with the early intuition instilled in him by the Spirit, which was influenced by his own personality and the events of his life, he and the first community shaped a charism*. Thanks to their creative fidelity, this charism began to express itself in a spirituality.
At the time of Marcellin’s death in 1840, the spirituality was well developed, but not systematised. Soon after, his disciples began to build up a body of texts to describe the spirituality. Significant among them were: Life of Marcellin Champagnat (1856), Our Models in Religion - Biographies of Some Brothers (1868) Avis, Leçons, Sentences (1869) : Chronicles of Br. Avit (1855).
In presenting a contemporary vision of Marist spirituality we are following the example of previous generations. The Manuel de Piété (1855) was the first text to crystallize an understanding of the spirituality of Marcellin and of the first generation of Brothers, particularly their way of relating to Jesus and Mary. It illustrated their spirituality with practical examples, focusing on those virtues seen as characteristic of a Marist Brother and necessary for “perfection.” Naturally, this work reflected the somewhat austere spiritual climate of the times.
Subsequent Superiors General and General Chapters continued to reflect on how best to live out these virtues in such changing circumstances as the secularization of 1903, two world wars, and various revolutions and persecutions. The signs of the times prompted fresh reflection upon our spirituality and its re-expression to guide our life and mission.
During the XIXth century and the first half of the XXth, an ascetic view of spirituality prevailed in the Church as a whole, including our Institute. Such an approach gave little prominence to the experiential and mystical dimensions of spirituality.
Vatican II* encouraged us to bring these elements to the heart of our spirituality. With the universal call to holiness, both religious and laity enter into the mystery of God, and the mystery of the Church. By doing so, the word “mystical”* recovers its original meaning as a normal Christian way of relating to God. Our present text consciously seeks to incorporate and highlight the mystical dimension in our spirituality. This Council also asked religious institutes to renew themselves according to their founding charism. One consequence of this was that it gave impetus to the systematic study of our patrimony and spiritual heritage.
After the Manuel de Piété (1855) the next official Marist text synthesizing our view of spirituality was Prayer–Apostolate– Community, the fruit of the XVIIth General Chapter (1976). This document highlighted the integration of the different dimensions of our life. The Superior- General at this time (1967-1985), Br. Basilio Rueda, through extensive and profound writing, enriched our spirituality by re-expressing its charismatic elements within the theological and spiritual currents that flowed from Vatican II. In its revision of the Constitutions, the XVIIIth General Chapter (1985) described our spirituality as Marial and apostolic.9 Since then, Superiors-General and the XIXth and XXth General Chapters (1993 and 2001 respectively) have further developed the meaning and implications of this Marial and apostolic spirituality.10
How to approach this document
What is new about this text is that it is addressed to both Brothers and Lay Marists. It reflects a belief that both groups share in the common charism that originated with Marcellin. They live out of the same spirituality, though in different life circumstances.
Writing for these two groups poses challenges in the use of language and images that can apply to both. At the same time, we feel the importance of using familiar terms that are part of our spiritual tradition and heritage. Therefore, we use terms, such as “fraternity” and “community,” with a broad meaning. In using the term “community” we have in mind all the communities of which Marists are part: families, religious communities, different forms of educational communities, parishes, etc. Thus we are not restricting this term only to those readers who are Brothers. The terms “brother” and “fraternity” are powerful symbols of a particular style of relating. Generally, they are used, not to apply only to professed Brothers, but to be more inclusive and to describe the relational style of all Marists. Where words have an asterisk (*) you are invited to check the Glossary at the end of the document, where an explanation is provided.
This document comprises five parts. The first part presents the distinctive elements of Marist Apostolic Spirituality, which have their origin in the experience and spirit of Marcellin and our founding community. Using the image of a journey or pilgrimage to describe spiritual development, the subsequent parts portray how our spirituality can be lived out: in our search for God and meaning in our lives (part 2), in our relationships (part 3), and in our apostolic life (part 4). They describe how each of these key dimensions can enrich and develop our spiritual life. The final part directs us to look to the future in hope, inspired by Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat.11 Hope enables us to face contemporary challenges with the courage of Marist saints who have gone before us. We do so with the conviction of being the heirs of a rich spiritual tradition.
For us, the members of the Commission, putting our heritage into words has been a spiritual journey that has blessed each of us. We have spent many hours together, and with other Marists, reflecting on the essential elements of our spirituality, the sources that nourish it, and the ways it integrates the key elements of our lives. We have learnt from each other through reflection grounded in prayer, passionate sharing and respectful listening.
The document is intended, not so much as a text to be read, but as a companion for our spiritual journeys. It is meant to be reflected upon and worked with, not so much because it is a definitive statement of our spirituality, but rather as a point in the development of that spirituality. We invite you to pray with the text. May it help to point us to the Marist way to God, to relationships and mission.
Because of how we were blessed we believe that prayerful reflection on the text is best done with other Marists. At the end of the document we provide some questions to aid the reflection of individuals or groups who might choose to use them.
Our hope is that the document will enrich prayer, provoke reflection and inspire action. May it truly become a path leading us to streams of living water.
International Commission of Marist Apostolic Spirituality, Rome.
1. DRAWING FROM STREAMS OF LIVING WATER
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
Streams of living water will flow from the believer’s heart.
We become streams of living water.
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink 12
1. The story of our spirituality is one of passion and compassion, passion for God and compassion for people.
2. Our beginnings were shaped by the caring relationship between a young country priest and a group of young people, living in a time of great social turmoil. The priest was Marcellin Champagnat*; the young people were Jean-Marie Granjon, Jean-Baptiste Audras, Jean-Claude Audras, Antoine Couturier, Barthélemy Badard, Gabriel Rivat, and Jean- Baptiste Furet. They became our founding community at La Valla*.
3. Simple and uneducated men, they lived with great simplicity and unity. Their day was spent in learning how to write, read and teach, and in manual work that sustained them economically. They lived in the midst of the people and shared their lot.
4. Ever more deeply they discovered the presence of God in their midst, and learnt to rely upon Providence. Together they developed a thirst for Jesus and for following him in Mary’s way. They developed a love of Mary as a sure way of centring their hearts on Jesus. They competed with each other to help someone in need.
5. Like Mary setting out in haste to the hill country, 13 each week they went out into the surrounding hamlets to make Jesus known and loved. They cared for poor children and welcomed them into their home.14
6. The group’s way of living the Gospel was a reflection of the character, values, and spirituality of its leader, Marcellin Champagnat. His spirituality was deeply influenced by his own personality. His first disciples remembered with affection the Marcellin they knew: open, frank, resolute, courageous, enthusiastic, constant and equable.15 His whole life gave witness of a person with a practical disposition, a man of action, and of humility. This enabled him to draw together from various sources a simple and down-to-earth spirituality.16
7. Key among the formative influences that shaped his spirituality was Marcellin’s personal experience of being loved intensely by Jesus and called by Mary. An incident early in 1823 (“Memorare in the Snow”*) was understood by Marcellin and his Brothers as highly significant. Marcellin and Stanislaus were lost in a snow storm. With his companion unconscious at his feet, Marcellin believed that if Mary does not come to our aid, we are lost. 17 Placing his life in God´s hands, he prayed the Memorare. His prayer to Mary was miraculously answered. Marcellin and his first Brothers saw in this incident a deeper reality: God‘s choice of them to share in the same mission that was entrusted to Mary.
8. Marcellin was also deeply aware of the love of Jesus and Mary for others. This inspired in him the passion of an apostle. He dedicated his life to sharing this love. In Marcellin’s encounter with the dying young man, Jean-Baptiste Montagne*, we see how disturbed Marcellin was to meet a boy facing the end of his life without knowing the love God had for him.
9. This event was for Marcellin a summons from God. His compassion aroused him to immediately put into action his foundational insight, We must have Brothers!18 The needs of young people and his responding vision for a group of dedicated evangelizers was now confirmed. They would bring the good news of Jesus to people on the margins of church and society. He had been a priest for just four months.
10. Marcellin was responding with dedication and in effective practical ways to the needs that he saw around him. But his response to the needs of his time was also formed by the Project* shared by the first Marists who dreamed of a renewed way of being Church, to which they pledged themselves at Fourviere*. 19 With Jean-Claude Colin*, Jeanne- Marie Chavoin* and the other ‘founding Marists’*, Marcellin shared the conviction that Mary was calling them together to respond to the needs of post-Revolutionary France.
11. The Marists understood their Project* to be a sharing in Mary’s work of bringing Christ-life to birth and being with the Church as it came to be born. It was a work which they hoped would touch every diocese of the world, and would be structured like a multi-branched tree by including lay people, priests, sisters and brothers.
12. The Marist spirituality that originated with Marcellin and the founding community has been enriched by the successive generations of Champagnat’s followers. It has now become a stream of living water. Future generations will further enhance this spirituality. With Marcellin, we know that Mary continues to guide its development.20
13. We believe the charism* of Marcellin is a gift given to the Church and to the world, a gift which we are being invited to further develop and live by progressively deepening our participation in this charism*. Our spirituality describes and expresses this charism* as it is incarnated at any particular place and time in history. As with all authentic charisms, it is a grace of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us for the purpose of building and unifying the Church as the Body of Christ.
14. In living our spirituality we find our thirst quenched at the streams of “living water.” In turn we become “living water” for others.
Streams of living water will flow from the believer’s heart 21
15. We are inspired by the vision and lives of Marcellin and his first disciples as we journey to God. While we share such a pilgrimage with many, we are conscious of our own distinctive style. We are gifted to share in that transforming experience of being, with Mary, loved unconditionally by Jesus. From this flow the particular characteristics of our manner of being followers of Champagnat.
God’s presence and love
16. Today, those of us who follow in the footsteps of Marcellin and his first disciples are seized by the same inner dynamism. We develop a way of being, loving and doing, in the spirit of our origins. Gradually, day by day, we deepen our experience of the loving presence of God within ourselves and in others. This presence of God is a profound experience of being personally loved by God, and the conviction that he is close to us in our daily human experiences.
Trust in God